Jackie Morris, wearing a hat like a lamp shade, age 3? at home with dad, mum and sister Maxine in Evesham

 

I was born in Birmingham and lived there until at the age of four my parents moved away to Evesham.

Here I grew up and remember little of those times. I do know that from at least the age of six I wanted to be an artist. I watched my dad drawing a picture of a lapwing, making a bird appear on a piece of paper using only a pencil, and I thought it was some magic that made this happen. So there and then I decided to learn how to conjure birds from paper and colour.

I went to school in Evesham to Prince Henry's High School and I remember walking to school past shop fronts above which elegant buildings grew. I used to get told off at school for drawing and dreaming. Now I get paid to do both.

I remember walking in the park by the river, bank voles and weeping willows and bright flashes of kingfishers. I loved the ferry at Hampton where the ferryman pulled you across the river to a land of fields and blackberries, where my dad would walk with me and show me how to find birds' nests and tales of when he was a boy.

After school I went to college, first in Hereford, then to Exeter where they told me that I would never make it as an illustrator and from there I escaped to Bath Academy, set in a beautiful stately home in Corsham. Here I developed a love for peacocks. These bright birds with their ridiculous tails would fly into our gardens.

After college I moved briefly to London, just off Balham High Road. I thought you had to live in London because that is where most of the publishing houses are. (It didn't take me long to realize that I was not born to live in a city) It was here that my real education began as I took my portfolio around magazine publishers and book publishers. I worked in magazines and books for seven years, for The New Statesman, New Socialist, Independent, Guardian and Radio Times. I designed cards and calendars for Greenpeace and Amnesty International and fell into children's books by accident.

I moved to Wales just before starting my first children's book, Jo's Storm, by Caroline Pitcher and have lived in the same place ever since, a small cottage held together by spider's webs. Cats come and go. At the moment I share the house with Tom and Hannah, my son and daughter, Floss and Bella, two odd dogs, and Maurice, Pixie, Elmo, Martha and Max, cats of various colour but mostly ginger.

self portrait with light on water

Things I like: Blue, cats, the smell of honeysuckle, rose petals, birds, words, fires, good books, crayons and paint, the smell of a new book, polar bears, moonlight and moonshadows, stars, sunrise, sunset, dew on the grass, poetry, red, random acts of kindness, long gold grass of late summer, the sound of the wind in the trees, the brush of a butterfly's wings, the fragility of bone, wasp's nests, washing on a line blowing in the wind on a sunny winter's day, the patterns the sea draws on a beach each day and night.

Music I like: Bjork, Stephen Fearing, Sufjan Stevens, Paulo Nutini, Nina Simone, Seth Lakeman, Cara Dillon, Kate Rusby, Karine Polwart, Coco Rosie, The Only Ones, Josh Ritter, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Sidsel Endresen, Ludovico Einaudi, Nick Drake, Yo Yo Ma, Christy Moore, Leon Rosselson, The Waterboys - especially The Whole of the Moon.

Books I like: The Book Thief, anything by Robin Hobb, Peter Pan, Where the Wild Things Are, The Arrivals by Shaun Tan, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Ropemaker, The Stolen Child and many more.

Films I like: Mirrormask, Stardust, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, Pirates of the Caribbean, In the Mood for Love, Tears of the Weeping Camel, House of Flying Daggers, Hero and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Science of Sleep, Cave of the Yellow Dog, Atonement, Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid.

Wishes and Desires: I would like a grandfather clock that chimes the hour and has a big key to wind it up. It would sit in my studio and when I have painted for six hours I would get up to make tea and wind back time, because what I need more than anything is more hours in the day. I would like infinite patience and a quiet mind. I would like a tidy house, clean and smelling of roses or frankincense, instead of a house that looks as if it inhabited by trolls and smelling of wet dogs. I would like my garden to be consumed by the hillside, to grow heather and foxgloves and all things wild, where snakes and spiders live with butterflies and birds.

summer portrait, grass shadow, Jackie Morris

Things I like to do: Walk, fly kites, watch birds fly, lie back on a high rock and watch clouds form and disperse, lie back in a wood and watch leaves fall, read, watch a good film under a blanket of cats, making things appear on paper using only coloured water, walking by shallow rivers where water tumbles over clear stone beds.

 

Artists I like: Angela Barrett, Brian Wildsmith, Maurice Sendak, James Mayhew, Marc Chagall, Sophie Rider, Chris Riddell ( who can draw a straight line and make it more beautiful than any other), Medieval illuminated manuscripts and the anonymity of the artists who made them, Shaun Tan, Peter Sis, Kay Nielsen, Catherine Hyde.

Poems I love: The Stolen Child by Yeats, Amulet by Ted Hughes, Lone Dog, Until I Saw the Sea, He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven by Yeats, the madness of nursery rhymes.

Books I like: Tarka the Otter, anything by Robin Hobb, 100 years of Solitude, House of the Spirits,Where the Wild Things Are, The Mousehole Cat, The Patchwork Cat, Hanta Yo, Last Night in Twisted River,

Films I like: Serenity, The English Patient, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Tears of the Weeping Camel, Betty Blue, Birdy, Blade Runner, The Secret of Roan Innish, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Open Range, Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves, Waterworld, Star Trek ( the new one),The Unbearable Lightness of being, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

 

For alternative biographies.....


©Jackie Morris